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Appeared on: Monday, December 19, 2011
MIT Launches Online Learning Initiative

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is developing technology that will allow students taking courses online to use simulated labs, interact with professors and other students, and earn certificates

MIT today announced the launch of an online learning initiative internally called "MITx."

MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform that will:

- organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace
- feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication
- allow for the individual assessment of any student?s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx
- operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.

MIT expects that this learning platform will enhance the educational experience of its on-campus students, offering them online tools that supplement and enrich their classroom and laboratory experiences. MIT also expects that MITx will eventually host a virtual community of millions of learners around the world.

MIT?s online learning initiative is led by MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif, and its development will be coupled with an MIT-wide research initiative on online teaching and learning under his leadership.

"Students worldwide are increasingly supplementing their classroom education with a variety of online tools," Reif said. "Many members of the MIT faculty have been experimenting with integrating online tools into the campus education. We will facilitate those efforts, many of which will lead to novel learning technologies that offer the best possible online educational experience to non-residential learners. Both parts of this new initiative are extremely important to the future of high-quality, affordable, accessible education."

Offering interactive MIT courses online to learners around the world builds upon MIT?s OpenCourseWare, a free online publication of nearly all of MIT?s undergraduate and graduate course materials. OpenCourseWare includes nearly 2,100 MIT courses and has been used by more than 100 million people.

OCW will continue to share course materials from across the MIT curriculum, free of charge.

MIT will make the MITx open learning software available free of cost, so that others ? whether other universities or different educational institutions, such as K-12 school systems ? can leverage the same software for their online education offerings.

A frequently asked questions (FAQ) about MITx is available here.


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